Solar Field Construction in Jicarilla Apache Nation Approved

By Collin Krabbe, Albuquerque Business First

Blue solar panels over blue sky. Renewable energy.

March 26, 2020 – New Mexico utility regulators have approved a program that will allow local governments and large businesses to subscribe to a universal solar field to be built by the state’s largest electric provider.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico says the cities and businesses can make a 15-year commitment to match their energy use to the solar field’s output. The utility says the arrangement will help pay for the cost of constructing the 50-megawatt facility and will help cities and businesses meet their sustainability targets.

The solar field will be built on Jicarilla Apache Nation land in northern New Mexico. Officials say it will be the first tribally owned, utility-scale solar project in the nation.

The formation of the PNM Solar Direct was forged through a partnership that included the utility, the city of Albuquerque, Santa Fe County, Western New Mexico University, the city of Deming, Deming Public Schools, Grant County, Silver City, and Wal-Mart.

Officials said the cost of building the solar field will be less than half the cost it would be for individual rooftop solar.